After much anticipation, the Elko Era is here.
Ever since former Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko was introduced as head coach in December 2021, the Blue Devils have been working toward a fresh start under new leadership. From Duke's annual spring game to fall camp to Monday's depth chart reveal, everything has served as one long prologue to Friday night's inaugural chapter.
The Blue Devils struggled in their last year under former head coach David Cutcliffe, winning just three games and going winless in ACC play. Duke will get another shot to right the ship, though, with a 2022 schedule that is almost identical to last season's slate. The Blue Devils have nonconference rematches with Northwestern, North Carolina A&T and Kansas before diving right into conference play, highlighted by an Oct. 15 date with crosstown rival North Carolina at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Along with Duke's new head coach comes a new quarterback under center in sophomore Riley Leonard, who Elko named the team's starter Sunday. Hailing from Fairhope, Ala., the 19-year-old could very well be the competitor that the Blue Devils need at the position moving forward.
Anchoring the defense as one of three team captains is junior defensive tackle DeWayne Carter, who appears primed to leave a legacy at Duke in many ways. The Pickerington, Ohio native will head up a revamped defensive unit alongside redshirt senior linebacker Shaka Heyward.
After arriving in Durham, Elko has wasted no time in overhauling the student and fan experience at Wallace Wade. As the first-year head coach's Duke tenure begins, fan engagement could be the key to success.
Elsewhere on the roster, catch up with the Blue Zone's positional previews for the specialists, defensive line, offensive line, defensive backs, linebackers, receivers and tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks.
Duke kicks off Friday night against Temple, a program with a head coach of its own specializing in the running game. Check back here Friday to see whether our beats think that the Blue Devils will open the 2022 campaign with a win.
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